Skip to main content

Full text of "My Country And My People"

See other formats

284          M Y    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

a month, and Wu Taotzii did it in a day, and each is perfect
in its own way."

When this revolt against minute artistry came, there was
Wang Wei, a first-class landscape painter himself, and he
introduced into it the spirit and technique of Chinese poetry,
with its impressionism, its lyricism, its emphasis on atmosphere
and its pantheism. Thus the "father of the southern school,"
which makes Chinese painting deservedly famous, was a man
nurtured in the Chinese poetic spirit.

Chronologically, the development was as follows: It seem
that the Chinese artistic genius first became conscious of itse]
in the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries. It was in this perio<
that art criticism and literary criticism were developed. An<
it was Wang Hsichih (321-379), belonging to one of the mos
artistocratic families of this time, who became known as "th-
prince of calligraphists." During the following centuries th<
influence of Buddhism was at work, giving us the famou
sculptures of Tat'ung and Lungmen. The style of writin]
which developed in Northern Wei, now preserved in the so
called CfWei rubbings" from inscriptions of this period, set thi
high watermark for Chinese calligraphy, in my opinion stil
the best in its whole history. The Wei style was the great style
it was not merely beautiful but had beauty and power an<
finesse combined. Hsieh Ho in this period first enunciated th<
principle of "rhythmic vitality" which became the centra
principle of all Chinese painting in the last fourteen hundrec

Then came the great eighth century, which, for some reasoi
or other which I cannot quite explain, became the mos
creative period of Chinese history, in painting, poetry anc
prose. The cause was at least partially to be found in th<
infusion of new blood which took place during the chao;
of the preceding centuries. Li Po and Wang Wei were botl
bora in the north-west, where race mixture was most active
but we lack more adequate genealogical data. Anyway, th<
human spirit became free and creative. This century gav<
us Li Po and Tu Fu and a good number of other first-claa
poets: Li Ssuhsdn, Wang Wei and Wu Taotzii in painting
Chang Hsti m the "ninnmg style'* and Yen Chench'ing in th<